The minor league season begins in earnest tomorrow, and Obstructed View is going to do better than ever at covering it. DJ had been coverin the minor leagues here in the past and due to no fault of his own, dmick89 and myself have taken it over. Truthfully, dmick89 finds little else to talk about, so he felt he need to do this or risk not contributing enough. We'll have previews of each roster today (two now and two later). We'll also be posting recaps each day; I'm covering the weekends, and dmick89 is taking the weekday beat.
2012 Record: 53-87
2012 RS/RA: 613/711
The 2012 Iowa Cubs were bad, and the 2013 Cubs don't figure to be a great deal better. Still, there are a few intriguing names to be had here, and the pitching specifically is a lot higher quality than last year. The Cubs should graduate a few players to the majors this year, but probably no superstars.
|Legit Prospect?||Kinda-sorta?||Dice Roll?||Org Filler?|
|RHP Esmailin Caridad||No||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Yoanner Negrin||No||Yes|
|LHP Chris Rusin||No||Yes|
|LHP Brooks Raley||No||Yes|
|RHP Nick Struck||Yes|
|RHP Rafael Dolis||No||Yes|
|RHP Barret Loux||No||Yes|
|RHP Casey Coleman||No||Yes|
|RHP Blake Parker||No||Yes|
|RHP Jensen Lewis||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Cory Wade||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Zach Putnam||No||Yes|
|RHP Jaye Chapman||No||Yes|
|RHP Drew Carpenter||No||Yes|
|J.C. Boscan (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Luis Flores (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Wes Darvill (L)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Tim Torres (S)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Josh Vitters (R)||Yes|
|Logan Watkins (L)||Yes|
|Brad Nelson (L)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Edwin Maysonet (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Ty Wright (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Brett Jackson (L)||Yes|
|Darnell McDonald (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Brian Bogusevic (L)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Ryan Sweeney (R)||No||Yes|
Esmailin Caridad has been a Cub seemingly forever. He's organizational filler who might get a cup of coffee again in his life, but his situation on the 40-man (he's not on it) makes that scenario very unlikely with the Cubs.
Yoanner Negrin is an enigma; he's very late to american professional baseball, but is at least a semi-prospect. He's supposedly a guy that can work in the low-90s with an array of pitches, but I'd imagine he's going to be a reliever for the Cubs if he makes it at all. He's 29 and starting his first real year as a minor leaguer; it's anyone's guess how he performs at AAA.
Chris Rusin is one of a pair of fringey lefties (Brooks Raley is the other one). I don't see him as more than a AAA arm for the majority of his career, and he's almost certainly the 40th man on the 40-man. If he is a Cub at the end of this season, I'll be mildly shocked.
Brooks Raley has a slight bit of upside on Rusin. He's a year younger with slightly better control. He's got another year to attempt to break in the back of the Cubs rotation, and he's got a fair chance to do so depending on his opportunities.
Nick Struck is a pretty underrated prospect. His only poor performances have come during his late-season promotions; other than that, he's been an age-appropriate prospect hat has generally met expectations. He isn't someone I think is going to make an impact in 2013, but if he performs well this year he could be a 3-4 for Chicago in 2014.
Rafael Dolis might never get a handle on his slider. If he does, it's sublime, but he's like a worse version of Marmol so you can imagine how that is going to turn out.
Barret Loux had an interesting line last year. He went 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA. No doubt he was lucky, but he's an interesting test case to see if winning is an innate trait. As with Struck, a 2013 promotion seems unlikely unless the team is really gutted, but he's got potential to feature in the rotation as soon as 2014. All told, he's a solid return for Soto.
Casey Coleman is a fringey reliever at this point. He probably deserves a shot to stick in the bullpen, but is off the 40-man. We'll see if he gets an opportunity later this season.
I think I'm being charitable when I say that Blake Parker might sorta be a prospect. He had a good year in AAA last season, but he was 27 and it was his 5th season there. That sounds like AAAA to me.
Jensen Lewis was a savvy pickup at first glance, but he hasn't been effective for a couple years now. Still, there's a chance that he can contribute to the front-end of a bullpen in 2013, and no big loss otherwise.
Cory Wade is a reclamation project in the same vein. He was nuts for the Yankees in 2011, and equally bad in 2012. The problem with last year was basically entirely BABIP-driven, though. His peripherals were actually very good. I like Wade a lot, and it would be more surprising than not if he wasn't valuable for the Cubs last year (even if it's a Shawn Camp type of value).
Zach Putnam is in the same boat as Casey Coleman and a hundred other relievers.
Jaye Chapman is slightly better than the Colemans and Putnams of the world by virtue of his live breaking ball. He can't pitch against lefties so he only has a future as a 7th inning type.
Drew Carpenter's 3.38 ERA in AAA is way more impressive than it looks. The PCL is very hitter-friendly, and Las Vegas is where pitching goes to die. Sveum said he was next up as far as starters are concerned; I hope that's not the case, but it's hard to pitch that well in that park without at least some talent.
J.C. Boscan is your typical backup-backup catcher at AAA. If he sees time on the Cubs, we're a good bet to be in serious trouble.
Luis Flores put up a .572 OPS as a 25 year backup in AA last year.
Wes Darvill is the sacrifical lamb of the Epstein Regime. He's 21 next year, but hasn't shown anything approaching talent in his 4 years with the organization. He's here purely because of the numbers; he'll be sent down in short order.
Tim Torres is what Wes Darvill sees when he looks 6 years into the future.
Josh Vitters is about on his last chance. He needs to field 3B adequately to have a chance to contribute in the major leagues; his bat barely plays at 3B and has no chance at 1B, which is his future should he not perform this year. I'm higher on Vitters than most, but even I realize that the success stories for a career like Vitters' are few and far between.
Logan Watkins would have been my pick to relieve Barney while he's on the DL, but instead the Cubs will wait to start his clock until next year, most likely. He's got a high floor and a relatively low ceiling; the comps to Todd Walker or Marco Scutaro seem pretty reasonable. Watkins is definitely one to watch this year.
Brad Nelson is nothing but org. filler. He has 3379 PA in AAA in his lifetime.
Ty Wright never really made it. His upside is AAAA.
Brett Jackson has probably the most important season of any Cubs minor-leaguer. If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he can be a ML starter. If he doesn't, he's looking at a future as a 4th OF or worse. He'll be in Chicago probably as soon as one of the OFers are traded.
Darnell McDonald and Brian Bogusevic are just org filler.
Ryan Sweeney is a late addition to the squad. He doesn't seem to have a great chance to break into Chicago unless a dude (Soriano) is traded sooner than the Cubs are comfortable having Jackson up for.
2012 Record: 68-72
2012 RS/RA: 595/615
2012's Smokies were a pretty average unit, and they look be the same this year. Logan Watkins and Nick Struck are the main departures, but the Smokies should be an exciting place to watch baseball in the second half of the year. Both Soler and Baez will realistically end up in Tennessee at some point, and Arismendy Alcantara could end up turning a lot of heads this season. Other than that, there are a few potential pitchers in Zych and Hendricks who are interesting, and Villanueva and Szczur are names to watch on the offensive side of the ball.
|Legit Prospect?||Kinda-sorta?||Dice Roll?||Org Filler?|
|RHP Kevin Rhoderick||No||Yes|
|RHP Dae-Eun Rhee||No||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Tony Zych||Yes|
|RHP Frank Batista||No||Yes|
|LHP Eric Jokisch||No||Yes|
|RHP Brian Schlitter||No||No||No||Yes|
|LHP Zach Rosscup||No||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Alberto Cabrera||No||Yes|
|RHP Marcus Hatley||No||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Dallas Beeler||No||No||No||Yes|
|RHP Kyle Hendricks||Yes|
|RHP Trey McNutt||No||Yes|
|RHP A.J. Morris||No||No||Yes|
|Jair Fernandez (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Rafael Lopez (L)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Justin Bour (L)||No||Yes|
|Elliot Soto (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Arismendy Alcantara (S)||Yes|
|Christian Villanueva (R)||Yes|
|Rubi Silva (L)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Jae-Hoon Ha (R)||No||Yes|
|Johermyn Chavez (R)||No||Yes|
|Anthony Giansanti (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Jonathan Mota (R)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Matt Szczur (R)||Yes|
Kevin Rhoderick is repeating AA for the second time. Drafted in the 9th in 2010, he hasn't really impressed in his 2 years with the organization.
Dae-Eun Rhee is coming up on his 5th year in the organizations. He hasn't been particularly accomplished in any of them.
Tony Zych throws a 93-96 mph that he relied on to strikeout 9.4/9 last year. He's got true closer potential if he can harness his command just a touch more. He's got a promising future, and if he develops his mid-80's slider, look out.
Frank Batista did really well in AA last year, and I think he's just a numbers victim. He closed at Tennessee, but didn't overpower anyone. I'm not sure how he profiles moving forward (there's not a lot of literature on him), but he's got nothing left to prove at Tennessee.
Eric Jokisch has climbed the ladder and done everything he's need to. He took to starting well last year, and a good showing at Tennessee will do much to elevate his prospect status. Hopefully he regains some strikeouts; that's the only concern I've got with his line (6.5 K/9).
Brian Schlitter was claimed by the Yankees, and then the Phillies, in 2011. He was returned to the Cubs because he was damaged goods. He had a good season last year but he's 27 this year so it's anyone guess if he ever smells the majors. He's exclusively a mopup type at this point.
Zach Rosscup is just constantly injured. He can reclaim his status as a worthwhile prospect just as soon as he passes the 50 inning threshold in a season, which he has failed to do in any of his 4 seasons. When healthy, he's shown glimpses of being a solid lefty starter.
Alberto Cabrera is being stretch out into a starter, and then he'll be promoted to Iowa. That's not going to work because Cabrera doesn't really have a playable secondary pitch; I'd be happier if they just stuck him in the pen to see if he could just throw gas in the 8th or 9th. The Cubs have a hundred back-end options for the rotation, but only a few legitimate closer candidates. Cabrera is one, so why waste it?
Marcus Hatley really struggled with a midseason promotion to AAA last year. I'm not sure he's got enough control or stuff to really contribute past AA.
Dallas Beeler struck out 70 in 136 innings at AA last year. That's all I really need to say about that.
Kyle Hendricks pitched 147.2 innings with the Daytona and Myrtle Beach (A+ TEX affiliate) squads last year. That's a lot of mileage for a 22-year old, but what's even more impressive that he only walked 18 people in that span, good for 1.1/9. He's going to start at AA this year, and I'm really excited to see if he can keep up his very impressive control. He's a dark-horse breakout candidate.
Trey McNutt is a busted prospect. Hopefully we works out in the bullpen, but I'm really doubting it. Honestly, he's still just 23, but he hasn't had a good season over A+ and that's generally due to the fact that AA rosters are making way more contact and getting way more hits.
AJ Morris was a Gorzelanny return, but he's always been old for his level and that isn't changing here. He's 26 and he's never pitched above A+.
Jair Fernandez is on his 4th system now. He's just an org catcher, for sure.
Rafael Lopez is another ultra-fringe guy. He's a 2011 draftee so he's got a leash, and there is literally no one in front of him or right behind him, so he could end up being a backup at some point. I'm not optimistic.
Justin Bour is only even a fringe prospect because he has had an OPS over .800 3 consecutive years. I'm being charitable, he can only play 1B, but he's got a shot to be a backup at some point…maybe? Honestly, I thought he would be assigned to AAA this year so the Cubs probably have a lower opinion than I did.
Elliot Soto is an afterthought, as many who can't outslug their OBP are.
Arismendy Alcantara could explode this year. He's adding power to his arsenal as he grows up (5'10", 160lbs, so he's filling out), and another cut in his strikeouts could put him solidly in global top 100 lists.
Christian Villanueva's star is fading across Cubdom. Jason Parks doesn't love his bat, and thinks he might just be a defense-first backup INF in the majors. Even if that's true, that's not the worst thing in the world. He's still 22 at AA, so he's got plenty of time left.
Rubi Silva got on base 27.7% of the time as a 23-year old in AA last year. His career line is .290/.312/.402. He's a low-level Darwin Barney who doesn't play great defense. Are you getting the message?
Jae-Hoon Ha is apparently a defensive whiz…but he's getting moved off of CF. He hasn't shown the skills as of yet to bust out of AA (773 PA there), so I'm doubtful he'll ever be anything but a 5th OF, and I think the scouting might be incorrect re: defensive skills.
Johermyn Chavez is working on his 3rd organization now. I've heard he has real makeup issues, but I'm not certain that's true. He looks like a good bet to stall out in AA, but I thought he looked ok in Spring Training, so I'm oddly optimistic.
Anthony Giansanti is a nobody who can't OPS over .700 in a corner outfield position.
I have no idea what to say about Jonathan Mota. Interestingly, he's pitched at least 1 game in 4 different seasons, despite being a true utilityman. He's listed as an outfielder but has way more time at SS/2B. He turned it on last year (.867 OPS) after never putting up an OPS above .722 before that, but he also only received 81 PA. This season will, incredibly, be his 9th with the Cubs organization. That's a long time to never sniff the majors.
Matt Szczur is just barely a real prospect. He's got to put together the tools at some point, because intangibles only get you so far. He's going to have every opportunity at AA to breakthrough, but he's in real danger of being passed in development by some of the more intriguing young outfield guys.